My summer of reading crap – Part 2: Some novels

We’re well into fall and I’m still behind in my reviews of books I slogged through this summer.

Every night, exhausted from work and family, I fall into bed and stare at the ceiling, guilty that I haven’t saved you, my devoted, gentle reader(s) from picking up a book that looks interesting only to discover it’s crap.

Here are brief reviews of some of the crap. Hold your nose.

Continue reading “My summer of reading crap – Part 2: Some novels”

The Yellow Brick Road to Hell

Here’s another late-to-the-party read: Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” Is it possible it turns 20 this year?

wickedHere’s how it ended up on my reading list: I was watching a bootleg YouTube video of the musical “Wicked,” (I’ve never seen it live. I know, shut up.) which is based on the novel. It was so clever and fun and witty and only a bit dark that I said to myself: “Hey, if the novel is as cute as the musical, this should be fun.”

(Pause goes here.)

(Little bit longer.)

(One more beat.)

Yeah, so it was anything but fun. Continue reading “The Yellow Brick Road to Hell”

When even short fiction is too long

When I was working on my master’s degree in creative writing I took a class called, I believe, The Art of Short Fiction. It was taught by a writer, Sam Astrachan, who had achieved some success in France. He was ancient and as boring as a maiden aunt.

The class was three hours long and the first part of each session was given to his tedious interpretation of our sometimes unintelligible assigned reading for the week, read in a quiet, mucusy voice from notes that were nearly as old has he was. When he finished, he asked whether we had any questions and, of course, none of us did because we had tuned out about seven seconds after he started. Once, instead of listening, the other students and I watched a student struggle unsuccessfully to stay awake. He finally woke up when his head, I kid you not, fell forward and bounced off the table we all sat around. Continue reading “When even short fiction is too long”

And I Thought Philip Roth Had Issues

Now I’m no prude. Really. I read Philip Roth. I love a bawdy joke. I watch (God forgive me) “American Horror Story.” But I have to draw the line somewhere. Most recently, it was Page 122 of Robert Olen Butler’s “They Whisper.”

I’ve owned this book for a long time. I’ve started it a couple times, but never got very far. The last time I started it was shortly after one of my kids was born. Dumb. A time when you aren’t getting much sleep and aren’t in the mood for anything else is not a time to read a stream-of-consciousness erotic novel. Continue reading “And I Thought Philip Roth Had Issues”

90 percent not caring

HappierThere was a time when I, stupidly, let negative people and their games into my head. I recognized what was happening, but I couldn’t help myself; so much seemed at stake.

That’s when I first read a self-help book. My wife suggested a work by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I don’t remember much about it, not even the title, but I took away some techniques I use every now and then when I face challenges. Then I listened to a book by Marianne Williamson. Again, no clue what the title was, but I added a few aphorisms to my self-talk (the best one: Why do I care what people I don’t respect think of me?) that can talk me out of a funk. Self-help books are not a staple of my reading list by any stretch of the imagination, but I dive in every once in a while. Continue reading “90 percent not caring”